My extended family have been commercial beekeepers for over 100 years. It all started with my great-grandfather and his brother who received beehives instead of cash as payment for a job. I’m not sure if I would have accepted that as payment but I’m glad they did.
The beehives and fresh honey were a hit with the family, and soon enough everyone was involved and collecting honey. Fast forward two generations, and my dad was growing up on the same farm in Muchea, Western Australia, having a lot of bread with fresh butter and a thick layer of honey, he tells us almost daily.
I didn’t grow up on the farm, but my whole life there has always been fresh, raw family honey in the house. Although this was great, it was never something I thought would end up as a big part of my life. My sisters and I had no intention of being involved in honey business and all went our separate ways. I’m a qualified welder; my oldest sister, Samantha, is a food scientist; and my middle sister, Katie, is a producer and project manager in advertising. I never thought we’d work together.
Learning about raw active honey
My father, Mike, is (and loves being) a scientist; when something interests him, he really dives into the subject. Ten years ago, he started getting interested again in the powers of raw honey, especially active Western Australian (WA) honey. He started doing in-depth research on what specifically made it so great. He’d always bring up something about it at dinner and after a while I started getting more interested. There was so much information he was gathering that I didn’t think many people knew about. It was from these moments that a welder, a scientist and a librarian (my mum, Suzy) decided to start Forest Fresh Honey.
So raw active honey – what’s the big deal?
My family have always been spoilt for choice when it comes to the best quality raw active honey from WA, but we often get asked what this means. There is a long way and a short way to explain all this; but I’ll try keep it short.
Raw honey means it’s not heat treated and has nothing added to it. A lot of honeys today are strongly heated and ultra-filtered. Some even have fake honey or syrup added.
Activity refers to the microbial killing powers of the honey. In Western Australia, the activity of most of our honeys is measured by Total Activity (TA), which is the sum of the two microbial killing systems of Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA) from the plants, and Peroxide Activity (PA) from the bees. When I talk about active WA honey, I always start the conversation with ‘liquid gold’.
Western Australia and liquid gold
WA was famous for its gold rush years ago but the liquid gold we talk about today is Jarrah honey. Jarrah honey is one of the highest activity honeys we supply. It has a unique composition that delivers great benefits including a low GI, a great source of prebiotics, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, minerals, vitamins and more. It has a smooth delicious caramel like flavour.
Another unique property of high-quality Jarrah honey is that it will not crystallize like nearly all other types of raw honey. Because of the years of research that my father has completed on the composition of Jarrah honey, we can screen for resistance to crystallization and selectively purchase only honey we are confident won’t crystallize. We are so confident in this, we actually have the industry’s only (world-wide as far as we know) Crystallization Free Guarantee on our premium range of Jarrah honeys. Although there is nothing wrong with raw honey crystallizing (this is a natural process for most honey varieties) we have loved learning about it and sharing our knowledge and product with the world.
Jarrah honey vs manuka
The big question we get when we start talking Jarrah honey, a healing or medicinal honey, is if it is like manuka. The short answer is yes, it is similar in that they have powerful natural properties, but there are a few differences.
Jarrah and majority of WA honeys have mostly Peroxide Activity, which is a very strong antimicrobial system produced by the bees that has no toxicity and doesn’t affect the taste. With manuka, the activity is mostly from Methylglyoxal (MGO), a chemical produced by the manuka plant that is toxic in higher concentration and gives the honey a bitter taste. The strength of the activity in Manuka is measured either as the concentration of MGO or the NPA. Some New Zealand Mānuka honey uses the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), but this is just a trademarked term for the NPA. To simplify, MGO is easiest to compare against Total Activity and it looks a bit like this:
MGO 500 = TA15
MGO 1,000 = TA25
MGO 2,000 (highest available in manuka to date) = TA30
The highest TA that we sell is TA50+, which significantly exceeds the highest MGO found in manuka. You would think because of its stronger activity levels it would be a much higher price point, but this isn’t the case. Katie is based in the UK, and she mentioned that one of the upper-market department stores has sold a manuka honey of around MGO 1,800 for as high as £1,500 – wild, as Jarrah honey that exceeds this strength (eg our Jarrah Platinum TA50+), would retail for anywhere between £60 to £100, and this is with a healthy margin for everyone involved.
Katie also flagged that the cost of living crisis in the UK is tough for a lot of people at the moment. We talk a lot about how Jarrah honey could really help people who want to enjoy naturally healthy and beneficial foods like healing honeys, but don’t have this kind of money to spend on it. We want people to know about Jarrah honey so they know there are options and alternatives, not just one kind of medicinal honey. That’s our main goal: to let people know there are options and alternatives to everything, including healing honeys. You don’t have to spend hundreds to enjoy the benefits of these superfoods.
That’s what we’re doing at the moment – educating on honey and sharing high quality products. If this is something you’re interested in or you just want to learn a bit more, let us know. We’re always happy to share information. And if you haven’t already, you should definitely try some liquid gold.
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